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March 12, 2003

God’s Favourite Breakfast Cereal

The New York Times is reporting on a recent preprint on astro-ph. The title is the rather humdrum, “A high resolution foreground cleaned CMB map from WMAP. You might wonder why this makes it to the Times Science pages. I’ll cut to the chase, so you don’t have to slog through the usual painful Times reportage. The fuss is about the last paragraph in the paper,

What does this all mean? Although we have presented these low multipole results merely in an exploratory spirit, and more thorough modeling of the foreground contribution to l = 2 and l = 3 is certainly warranted, it is difficult not to be intrigued by the similarities of Figure 13 with what is expected in some non-standard models, for instance ones involving a flat “small Universe” with a compact topology as in [64–69] and one of the three dimensions being relatively small (of order the Horizon size or smaller). This could have the effect of suppressing the large-scale power in this particular spatial direction in the same sense as is seen in Figure 13. As so often in science when measurements are improved, WMAP has answered old questions and raised new ones.

Posted by distler at March 12, 2003 1:10 AM

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Re: God’s Favourite Breakfast Cereal

We just had a seminar last week on the latest MAP data, and we’re talking about 5 low l data points maybe suggesting a trend. Of all the things mentioned in that seminar, the other eyebrow-raising nugget was the quiet comment about the best fit for the CDM model accomodating dark energy with equation of state w<-1. That would be weird.

Posted by: Bob McNees on March 12, 2003 10:24 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: God’s Favourite Breakfast Cereal

A sound speed greater than the speed of light?

Yes, that would be … umh … weird. We’ll see how long it takes for that “result” to go away.

Posted by: Jacques Distler on March 12, 2003 10:37 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: God’s Favourite Breakfast Cereal


Next week I’m going out to the Davis conference on Cosmology, and then staying after a few days for a top-secret De Sitter workshop. Hopefully I’ll get some more details on the MAP data there, as well as what the cosmologists are making of it.

Posted by: Bob McNees on March 13, 2003 10:29 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Re: God’s Favourite Breakfast Cereal

Cool! Well, please report back.

Posted by: Jacques Distler on March 13, 2003 11:04 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

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